Monthly Archives: May 2011

Obesigenic Environment

A common term among researchers is that we’re living in an Obesigenic Environment. This is not an exaggeration at all if you simply observe the world around you. Unfortunately, the opposite extreme does exist in other parts of the world, but most developed countries are a virtual Candy Land.

While I don’t deny that many of our labor-saving technology and food abundance (or the illusion of it) have obvious benefits; we have to consider the consequences to our health and well-being.

Humans are built from the inside out to alternate between periods of “feast” and “famine”, and to sustain a high level of physical activity . When you move these variables to favor either extreme (starvation on one end and extreme Obesity on the other) you get harmful consequences.

With rare exceptions, extreme starvation and the emaciation of lean tissue are not a concern for most people; but on the other hand, diseases of excess are.

Without getting too scientific; just know that everything around you favors excess: not only is it your biological drive to eat food when it is available and to conserve as much energy (i.e. be lazy) as possible–but your environment, social pressures, emotional responses to stress, and even mental perceptions (such as not wanting to waste food) play a big role in influencing your actions or lack thereof.

The important thing is to persevere. You’re up against a powerful force but many have overcome it–you need to be aware at all times that it is a battle and most importantly take action. I will cover more tips in a future post, but here are two important habits that stand out to me since most of us fall into a usual “weekly routine”.

  • Grocery shop only for the things you will be consuming. As simple as it sounds, it takes serious commitment because once you walk into a store or market, you are vulnerable to that environment and the influence of beautiful displays and special deals. This can be challenging if you’re feeding a family, but take inventory of your fridge once in a while to find out what items are going to waste.
  • Exercise regularly. You don’t need to join a gym, although it is a highly motivating and supportive environment with a lot of options, if you eventually do. Physical activity is the important part. Go for a walk, have fun, get moving. If you don’t feel like changing into workout clothes, do something in street clothes. You’re only limited by your creativity and will.

Bodyfat Setpoint Vs. Lifestyle Setpoint

Today I’m going to address the theory that your body is “comfortable” at a certain level of body fat and will do anything it can to stay there.

Real-world experience is ahead of science on this one: it’s true that your body fights back at every attempt to get very, very lean–I’m referring to rock-hard, thin-skin levels. All of a sudden, highly palatable foods that you wouldn’t normally eat become agenda, sleep becomes increasingly difficult, and a binge will send you on your way to where you started at the beginning of the diet.

Simply put, the hunter-gatherer in you wants to eat. That’s biology. However, there is an even stronger force than biology, and that’s environment. Think of it this way: even with your hunter-gatherer genes, if you were stranded on an island with no food to eat, eventually you would deplete your fat reserves. Therefore, biology does not dictate reality.

Sure, being ultra-ripped, super-lean may not be realistic year-round (even shredded bodybuilders transition quickly into offseason once the contests are over) but this is no reason to go overboard or completely relax on your diet.

In my opinion, a person can maintain a reasonable level of leanness year-round without too much hassle. Your nutrition will improve as well. You just have to get used to the fact that it might not be realistic to be onion-skinned all the time, unless you are also willing to consistently feel miserable to stay there.

Most males can maintain the point where they start to see the outline of their abs, a hint of obliques, and some deltoid separation. A slight deviation above this should be considered the cutoff point. Females will need to carry slightly more, but a flat belly with a moderate amount of stored fat around the buttocks and thighs is obtainable and realistically sustainable.

Sustainable doesn’t mean easy–consistent exercise and optimal nutrition are still a must.